This Is The Place

These words – casually attributed to Brigham Young – were uttered as the advance party of Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – LDS) crested the Wasatch Range and looked upon the eastern edge of the Great Basin and the Great Salt Lake. I spent an extended time in this valley, up against the snow-covered middle Rocky Mountains, mostly alone as Holly had flown east for Natalie’s baby shower, and to see friends and family.

Brigham Young’s words feel apt today, not just for the beauty of the valley, but for the abundance, respite and safety it offered. We felt the same as we crested US6 at Sheep’s Creek (no creek, no sheep) and descended into Spanish Fork and the other towns along the Wasatch Range. A similar pattern emerged: we were immediately drawn to small town people and places, but with a more nuanced and complex experience as I lingered. In total, though, I was eager to leave – and not merely in the vein of our usual wanderlust, but actually eager to leave.

In the ensuing weeks, we have traversed Idaho and part of Montana. And as I sit on the bank of the swollen Yellowstone River, I have no overarching sense of, well, anything, other than Wherever I Am Is The Place. For Brigham Young, the point was to seek, not to journey. That was his, and many’s downfall. Here are some images from our journey.

I’ll include this one pic from my time in Salt Lake City. Holly was gone for over a week. I made sure the bus was super clean for her return.
Upon Holly’s return, we headed east out of the Great Basin, over two mountain passes, and to the shore of Bear Lake, which straddles the Utah-Idaho state line. Whether it was the shock of sky and water or the distance from the SLC area I can’t say, but here I felt I could breathe.
From there, we made our way to Lava Hot Springs, ID. This was a free camping spot, right along a busy freight rail line. We made new friends here along the banks of the Portneuf River.
Johnny continues to adapt, and has become keen on micro-adventures outdoors.
We have become fond of magpies
I can’t capture how lovely this hike was. We did a rigorous hike to the Goldbug Hot Springs, and were in awe each step. The springs themselves were lovely, ranging from icy cold to 113 degrees. My Goldilocks temperature was 108. There were just a few others souls there, ranging from pretty-much-naked to naked. We remained modest.
Too hot.
Just right.
Goldbug Hot Springs is just off US93 in Elk Bend, ID. This route follows the Salmon River, and is simply majestic. Just up the road, we found this cheap BLM campground – five bucks a night – on the river bank, just opposite Tower Rock.
While searching for a camping spot on the Salmon River, we came across this spot. It is the former home of the ’last of the Idaho hermits,’ Dugout Dick. He fashioned a home with gardens, and orchard and livestock in this spot for 70 years.
We had Sandy climb Lost Trail Pass out of the North Fork of the Salmon River Valley, into charred forests of southern Montana. We found a lovely spot for free on state land along the Yellowstone River in Big Timber, MT. The town itself is charming, despite its spot on I90. We have only dabbled in Idaho and Montana. These states will get our full attention next time around.

We’re here over a cold and rainy holiday weekend, frankly preoccupied with a few things. Some days the journey is like that. We’ll head east soon, and hope that the prevailing winds help Sandy’s mpg. We’re eager to see Jeffery, Bethany and Jamie in South Dakota and Jeff and Sarah in Minnesota. And of course, we are breathless waiting for a brand new person to arrive in Chicago.

5 thoughts on “This Is The Place

  1. You seem very content. One part about traveling is always thinking about what is ahead. It is hard sometimes to just be here now.

    Idaho is lovely. We spent about 3 weeks in the southern part a couple of years ago.

    Enjoy your journey back east. And congrats on your new arrival.

  2. I love following your travels. I’ll never get to do this myself so I savor every post, picture and drawing.

  3. Just wanted to say hello. I parked next to you guys in West Texas near the border by that Mexican restaurant. I’m the one that had the Casita camper trailer. Now I’m wishing I had a short bus!!! I made it back to Michigan after 75 day and 7500 mile trip all the way to Arizona and back. I’m now back to work in the upper peninsula of Michigan in the Sault Ste. Marie area if you happened to stumble this way contact me.
    I’m working on the Soo locks.
    Should be here until November then back to Arizona for about two months of the winter.
    If I had a short bus like yours I could be camping right here in town that employers laydown yard where they store construction equipment. I really wish I would’ve went into a school bus or a van just for this reason. Staying in the camper just isn’t feasible for this job. Long-term Steve places are few and far between here in Sault Ste. Marie. There’s one guy from dayshift that is doing the van life thing up here staying in the laydown yard he’s got the right idea!!! The pay scale is good but no per diem to cover expenses and no way to write off expenses anymore. The rich can write off expenses!!! Hope all is well with you guys take care!!!

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